Aug 022008

In keeping with my policy of making superficial comments in this blog, I need to ask, why this movie convention of portraying a babe in arms as some stiff-as-a-board object covered up in baby blankets? The above scene is from the wonderful musical film, Obyknovennoye chudo, but I can’t think of a Russian movie that doesn’t portray babies this way. There may have been an attempt in Komissar to depart briefly from this convention. But even there, the mother is holding some lightweight object that certainly doesn’t have the heft of an actual baby, nor does it have the flexibility and fragility of one.

There is a scene in Brilliantovaya Ruka that parodied this convention, so I don’t think it’s only outsiders who notice.

What do they actually wrap up in those blankets? A stick of styrofoam? Balsa wood?

Aside from the babies, it’s too bad that the subtitles go away for a while in this YouTube segment, just at a point where there seems to be an important explanation that would help make such sense of it as can be made. I can understand a few words of what is being said, but not enough to catch the meaning.

Even without that, I am coming to view Obyknovennoye chudo as one of the great movies. There are stories within stories and well-done acting and musical touches that make it good for repeated watching. There is more to learn and appreciate each time.


  • I think it’s just an element of “theatrical conditionality”, not more. Film director Mark Zakharov is succesful theatrical director, and he knows a theatrical aesthetics very well. If you see the previous Mark Zakharov’s series “12 stuliev” (12 chairs) based on Illiya Ilf & Yevgeny Petrov’s novel about Great rogue Ostap Bender, you may notice a lot of similar “touches”, including the covered up babies in arms.

    I don’t exclude that Mark Zakharov wonted to emphasize a some artificiality of new period of life of heroes. But I’m sure there is no criminal.

    I highly recommend to see the most strange and most dark film directed by Mark Zakharov is “Dom, kotoryy postroil Svift” (The House that Swift build). It’s the fantasy of life, death and fictions of British writer Jhonatan Swift. Of course, there are a lot of hints on the political subtext of USSR of 1982 when the movie was done. In reality, this movie is about of fate of a Great Writer who experience a pressure of government, a stupidity and a indifference of audience… May say, it’s a story of all times ever.

    As for the list of the movies that I could be recommend you in accordance with your preferences, I must to say that I am confused a little 😉 While I’m thinking of it and I promise to write you of it later.

  • By the way, here is the fragment from “Dom, kotoryy postroil Svift”

  • Reticulator

    I’ve submitted a recommendation to Netflix that it get the two films by Mark Zakharov that you mentioned. In addition, I told them that anything and everything by Mark Zakharov would be good. At present, they have none of his work.

    We’ll see what happens. Once upon a time I recommended that they add Komissar to their collection. It took several months, but they finally did.